What if I told you that there is a bridge in Cleveland that has extra eyes on the road for you? By the renowned West Side Market, immense and iconic Art Deco statues watch over the daily traffic that passes over the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge. The Guardians of Traffic were created in 1932 by sculptor Harry Hering and architect Frank Walker. These massive statues have become famous symbols in Cleveland and are often represented in local artworks and retail shops. They are even tattooed on the bodies of the Cleveland faithful. They are a must-see for anyone interested in visiting a historic Cleveland landmark.
Each guardian wears a winged helmet and represents Hermes, the god of commerce and protector of travelers according to Greek mythology. Hermes was able to move swiftly between the world of men and the world of gods and is sometimes perceived as a trickster who outwits other gods for the sake of humankind.
The recognizable statues stand tall within a short distance of the downtown Cleveland skyline. After some controversy about whether or not to keep them in the 1970s to accommodate more lanes for traffic, the bridge was named as a location on the National Register of Historic Places and underwent three years of repairs and cleaning. When the bridge reopened, it was renamed the Hope Memorial Bridge in honor of Bob Hope’s father William Henry Hope, who worked as a stonemason on the construction of the Guardians in the 1930s.
The Guardians of Traffic remain significant images for the city. They contribute to the specific identity of Cleveland, from the city’s overall appearance and what Cleveland stands for, to how its people and others experience the city as a whole. The architecture is intentioned and the Guardians affect the very souls of the people who live and thrive in the city.
The Guardians of Traffic resonate with people in a profound way. Travelers of the Hope Memorial Bridge can feel a sense of safety that moves them away from insignificance. Watching over those who traverse the bridge, the Guardians have a magical way of making people feel cared for as they cross from the west side of Cleveland to the east side and back again.